When Your Child is a Bully-Four Ways You can Help

You receive a phone call from your child’s school. The counselor on the other end requests an urgent meeting where you and your spouse learn your child has been bullying another student. Both of you are shocked and devastated. Are there signs you have missed; what can you do? Fortunately the school counselor chooses wise words encouraging you both to remain calm and focus on some suggestions.

1. Talking With Your Child

It is important to find out why your child finds it necessary to bully. To do that, explore how he or she is feeling about himself or herself. Has someone bullied them? Ask if any of their friends are bullying. In general, invite discussion about bullying.

2. Model Acceptable Behavior

Children need to be keenly aware that everyone has feelings and those feelings matter. In your home teach empathy, compassion, and respect. Children learn by example so make every effort to model gentleness and kindness. For example, one of the most difficult life lessons for kids to learn is sharing. Sharing itself is hard, but so are all the emotions involved both prior to, during, and afterwards. What a great opportunity to affirm a person’s feelings. When a teen learns disappointing news or is involved in a car accident, he may experience anger, frustration, fear, or lack of self-worth. After you model empathetic responses, later go back and ask your student how he felt when you let him know your genuine concern. Also, choose entertainment that avoids sarcastic, put-down behavior or language. You can even discuss which programs your children enjoy and why.

3. Role Playing

Help your child understand what it’s like to be the other person in a situation where bullying occurs. Role playing might be a good idea in this instance. Both parents and children can play parts, the bystander, the person doing the bullying, and the bullied. Make sure to talk over the various feelings incurred at all levels and what suggestions the child has for dealing with them, why they would or would not work.

4. Clear Expectations and Consequences

Communicate to your child that under no circumstances will you tolerate bullying; it is never acceptable. Be specific about the consequences. Find consequences that will be meaningful to the child so he/she will be certain you are quite serious. And by all means take immediate action if you learn he/she is part of a bullying incident.
While you are expecting great things of your bullying kid, remember your own responsibilities. When you notice your child handling conflict well, shows compassion for others, or finds any number of positive ways in dealing with feelings, deliver appropriate, encouraging praise and recognition. As you anticipate constructive behavior changes, do remember times will come when a reaction is not acceptable; when this occurs, focus on the behavior, not the person. Keep your love and support in the forefront. In time your child will respond in kind; he or she will then grow to love themselves once again.

Auhtor: Ashley Cole is a stay at home mother, amateur gardener, and avid writer when she gets the chance. She always works with a grammar checker to ensure her work is professional, free of any embarrassing mistakes, and abides by all the necessary grammar rules.

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